Private Standards and Global Governance

Private Standards and Global Governance

Economic, Legal and Political Perspectives

Leuven Global Governance series

Edited by Axel Marx, Miet Maertens, Johan Swinnen and Jan Wouters

The expert contributors assess the state-of-the-art with regard to private regulation of food, natural resources and labor conditions. They begin with an introduction to, and discussion of, several leading existing private standards, and go on to assess private food standards and their legitimacy and effectiveness in the context of the global trade regime.

Chapter 10: Public and Private Food Safety Standards and International Trade Law. How to Build a Balanced Relationship

J. Wouters, A. Marx and N. Hachez

Subjects: development studies, development studies, law - academic, regulation and governance


3/7/12/final 10. Private standards, global governance and international trade: the case of global food safety governance Jan Wouters, Axel Marx and Nicolas Hachez1 1. INTRODUCTION Foodstuffs are increasingly produced and traded globally. Developing and newly industrialized countries, often with weaker environmental, health and safety regulatory frameworks, are becoming major producers of agricultural and other food products. This rise in their production capacity is affecting the way foodstuffs are produced and handled. As a result, regulatory gaps have been forming in global food governance. Many critics have argued that existing multilateral and governmental initiatives are currently incapable of effectively addressing the numerous global regulatory challenges associated with food, such as food safety or food quality, which result from trade liberalization and increased globalization. As a result of this state of play, the global food trade has been witnessing for some years the emergence of new ‘non-state’ initiatives aiming to fill these regulatory gaps. These initiatives seek to govern supply chains across the globe according to a set of ‘standards’ addressing the issues of the safety and the quality of food, but also the sustainability of its production methods.2 This movement partakes of a wider evolution which is intensively followed by the academic world, using a multiplicity of denominations to describe it, such as the important rise of private standards in supply chain management (Swinnen, 2007; Henson and Humphrey, 2008), the uptake of civil regulation (Vogel, 2008), the certification solution (Gereffi et al., 2001), the certification...

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